Wednesday 6th July to Monday 11th July
Lynton & Lynmouth
We took Wednesday off to visit friends who were holidaying in North Devon near the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth. Lynton was built on flat land 500 feet vertically above the beautiful fishing village of Lynmouth. I can never remember which is which, but until Easter Monday 1890 the only way you could travel between the two was via a very steep road. That is until the opening of the water powered funicular railway which had been approve by an Act of Parliament two years previously. Now established as a popular visitor attraction the original role of the cliff railway was to transport passengers and goods between Lynmouth harbour and Lynton. It is the highest and steepest totally water powered railway in the world.
The project to build the railway was the funded largely by publisher, MP and philanthropist Sir George Newnes who wanted to relieve the burden placed on the horses which laboured up the steep hill. The railway was designed by George Croydon Marks an early pioneer of funicular railways and devotee of Isambard Kingdom Brunel while the actual construction was carried out by local builder Bob Jones whose family are still involved in running the funicular today. The original mechanical design remains substantially unaltered.
The environmentally friendly railway works on a simple balancing principle using water as ballast which has been collected by gravity from the West Lyn River and stored in reservoirs. Each car has a 700 gallon tank mounted between the wheels with a smaller 10 gallons tank for the braking system. The two cars are attached to each other by two hauling cables and two balance cables which run around large pulley wheels at each end of the tracks. When each car is docked with full tanks of water, the cars are balanced and ready for passengers to board. Once the brakes are taken off the lower car discharges water until it is lighter than the top car which descends under the additional weight which causes the lower car to be pulled up the track. Our video of the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway can be seen below:
In a future railwaydog blog, we’ll be taking a close look at the three Bournemouth Cliff Lifts.
Lynton & Barnstaple Railway
We had fully intended to visit The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, but we had lots of catching up to do as well as finding ourselves distracted by goats that we decided to save this narrow gauge railway for another visit when we had time to do it justice. As a taste of what to expect, our friends visited on Thursday and sent us the following images to share, for which we are very grateful.
The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway originally opened in 1898 and closed in 1935. The current railway is just the start of a project to rebuild the narrow gauge line and trains currently run between Woody Bay Station and Killington Lane, a round trip of two miles.
Poole Park Railway
The 260mm gauge Poole Park railway was first operated in 1949 by Southern Miniature Railways Ltd. In 2017, Poole Borough Council ended their tenancy agreement with Chris Bullen who had operated the railway since June 2005 and awarded a thirty year concession to Friends Of Poole Park for its operation. However following behind the scenes disputes, walkouts and a derailment in 2018 the concession was withdrawn and a notice to quit issued. Now in the hands of Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole Council (BCP) and following a successful tendering process, Shropshire based Track Systems UK began work on renewing the infrastructure, traction and rolling stock.
Despite progress on the £480,000 revamp of Poole Park Railway having been made with work completed on the new engine shed and track there has been a delay in the delivery of a fully electric engine for use on the popular attraction. Efforts to source a suitable temporary engine are ongoing. Carriages are currently being constructed off-site which are expected to be delivered shortly. When re-opened the railway will be run by volunteers and BCP environmental team.
Saturday 9th July 2022
Saturday was far too hot for Yoshi to venture out, so while he stayed home drinking cold mocktails and being well looked after, I headed to Norden to see Class 50 No. 50026 ‘Indomitable’ on a loaded test run as part of its mainline certification on the Swanage Railway. Class 33 No. 33012 / D6515 ‘Lt Jenny Lewis RN’ provided support.
There were scenes reminiscent of my misspent childhood Summer Saturday’s as five Class 47 diesel locomotives passed through Dorchester on their way to Weymouth as three rail tours visited Dorset on Saturday July 9th 2022. It could have been the 1980’s if I hadn’t had to fill the car up with fuel. First up was the Northern Belle organised “Weymouth Harbour – The Dorset Coast” which originated from Birmingham International. For £370 you could enjoy all the comforts of the Northern Belle luxury trains welcome Bellini cocktail, a three-course brunch, tea and coffee, oyster tasting with sparkling wine in Weymouth, a champagne reception and a five course dinner which included cheese and biscuits. What’s not to like? Apart from the seafood in my case, obviously. I’m sure cheesy puffs would be an acceptable alternative.
Statesman Rail provided the “Dorset Coast Statesman” which set out from Norwich in the early hours with passengers able to pick Bournemouth, Poole or Weymouth as their destination. Pullman dining, which also boasted cheese and biscuits, was available from £330 and First Class ( non-dining ) tickets could be purchased from £175.
Finally The Railway Touring Company brought steam to Dorset with “The End Of Southern Steam” excursion which also provided passengers the opportunity to visit Weymouth for the afternoon. This tour marked 55 years since the end of steam on the Southern Region of BR. On the 9th July 1967 the final regular steam hauled passenger train arrived at London Waterloo, signifying the end of steam in the South. Departure on 9th July 2022 was steam hauled from London Victoria behind SR rebuilt Merchant Navy 4-6-2 No. 35028 ‘Clan Line’ through to Yeovil Junction where the steam locomotive was detached for servicing and turning while the rest of the train continued to Weymouth diesel hauled. ‘Clan Line’ then followed light engine to Weymouth in order to haul the train up Bincombe Bank and back to London via Bournemouth. At the time of writing, I’m not aware if cheese and biscuits were on the menu, however ticket prices ranged from £130 for Standard class, £195 for First class and £295 for Premier Dining.
The afternoon schedule was disrupted by a signalling issue between Dorchester South and Weymouth which resulted in all lines being blocked for a while. This delayed the arrival and departure of “The End Of Southern Steam” (37 minutes late arriving and 48 minutes late departing) and the departure of the “Dorset Coast Statesman” (43 minutes late departing).
A compilation video covering 9th July rail tours to Weymouth is below:
Class 47’s at Dorchester in days gone by:
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Comments and corrections welcome. We’ll be back for another round-up soon!